The New York Yankees have set their 40-man roster and have released injury-plagued Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird.
MLB teams faced a Wednesday deadline to set their revised 40-man rosters before the annual Rule 5 draft. For New York Yankees fans, that meant a little more intrigue than usual. What would the team do with injury-plagued veterans Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird? According to ESPN‘s Jeff Passan, the Yankees will move forward without both Ellsbury and Bird.
The Yankees will eat the remaining $26 million on Ellsbury’s contract. The 36-year-old outfielder was owed $21 million for 2020 and a $5 million buyout for 2021. His seven-year, $153-million contract will go down as one of the worst in franchise history. Ellsbury played in only 520 games and missed all of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He hit just .264/.330/.386 with 39 home runs, 198 RBI and 102 stolen bases. Ellsbury did not make an All-Star team or record a postseason hit for the Yankees.
First baseman Greg Bird was also designated for assignment, leaving his future with the Yankees in doubt. Bird can remain with the Yankees if he passes through waivers, but there is a chance a rebuilding team takes a flier on the 27-year-old who has been constantly plagued by injuries.
Bird has played in only 140 games over the past three years after missing all of the 2016 season with a torn labrum. Ankle issues limited him to 48 games in 2017 and 82 in 2018, while a plantar fascia tear ended his 2019 season in April. After a promising rookie season, Bird has hit just .194/.287/.388 with 21 home runs and 67 RBI over the last three years. He did show flashes of greatness in the 2017 playoffs, returning to hit two doubles and three home runs in 13 games.
The release of Ellsbury and DFA of Bird does not mean much for the Yankees in 2020, as both contributed very little over the last three years and could not be counted on to deliver. Jettisoning them from the roster will allow New York to protect two more prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. If the Yankees are lucky, Bird will find a way to remain in the organization, get healthy and emerge as a platoon bat off the bench. Ellsbury’s career is likely over, and he will go out just shy of 1,400 career MLB hits.